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5 Books to Save Your Marriage —or— 5 Books to Make a Good Relationship Flourish

Updated on January 25, 2012

Great Help for Your Marriage With or Without Seeing a Therapist

"I don't need a book for advice."

In a time when most U.S. marriages end in divorce and many of the rest remain unsatisfying, from whom do you seek your relationship advice? When a problem seems unsolvable do you ask your divorced parents, your unhappily married aunt and uncle, your never married friends? Or do you have a parent or grandparent with the fruit on the tree of a prospering marriage with years on it?

If you don't have a successful relationship from which to model yours, or if you need another perspective, try a book. Many relationship/marriage therapists who write books (though not all) have successfully counseled others and have their own successful marriages from which to share insight.

"I don't need any relationship help."

If a relationship doesn't grow then it's moving backward; it doesn't stand still. That's why it's important for even healthy relationships to continually improve.

On the other hand, if your relationship is in trouble and you don't actively work to fix it by learning new information (either from a friend or parent in a successful marriage, a therapist, a book, or a workshop) the relationship will only continue to deteriorate.

"Then where do I go for advice?"

I've personally seen each book on this list help numerous others and heard some say one of more of these books saved their marriage.

Thanks to a leadership and personal development program in which I'm involved, LIFE (Living Intentionally for Excellence), I've read several marriage and relationship books that have helped my and my husband's good relationship flourish into a great relationship, and I've found five in particular helpful. In fact, after watching almost every single one of my relatives go through at least one ugly divorce where spouses seemed to want to hurt each other and no one came out unscathed I never thought I'd want to marry, or at least if I did that it wouldn't last (that's statistics, of course.) After reading two of these books, however, I feel I have the tools I need to not only maintain a lifelong marriage but also to beat the obstacles and the odds, love during the good times and the bad, and generally be happy.

My experience alone, however, does not a good book make. I've personally seen each book on this list help numerous others, too, and heard some say one of more of these books saved their marriage.

Each of the five books has information beneficial to couples from every walk of life (some more beneficial to some than others, but all beneficial in some way to all). Each seems to catch the mistakes we make in marriages, explain the reasoning behind each problem, and provides solutions to fix these mistakes or prevent them from occurring. Finally, the five I'm presenting to you I believe to be the best because they each look at the needs of marriage from a different angle and fill the needs of both the husband and the spouse.

The List

5 Books to Save Your Marriage

— or —

5 Books to Make a Good Relationship Flourish

  1. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  2. His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Jr. Harley
  3. For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and For Men Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Jeff Feldhahn
  4. Personality Plus by Florence Littauer
  5. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

Read one of these five and your spouse will (perhaps silently) thank you. Read all five and apply their principles and your marriage can flourish.

What Else You'll Find (And a Disclaimer)

If you've read a book you find especially helpful please add it to YOUR Relationship Book List!

And, if you find this page the least bit helpful, please "like" it on Squidoo and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or your other favorite social medium.

NOTE: I am NOT recommending to not seek professional help if your marriage is in crisis. I am recommending these books as great resources that I and many other people I personally know found helpful. Maybe you don't yet need or want professional help. Maybe you need professional advice but have an unwilling partner. Or perhaps you want additional help in conjunction with a marriage therapist. I have confidence you'll find these books helpful in each of these cases.

The 5 Love Languages

"The Five Love Languages" - a summary review

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

We can express our love for a friend or spouse in many ways, but certain ways make use feel more loved than others. Certain ways make your spouse and friends feel more loved, too. Author Gary Chapman categorizes these into five categories, gives illustrations and examples of each one. He also includes a test for you (and your spouse) to take to learn your love language.

Why does this matter?

Are you showing your friends and spouse that you care for them in the ways THEY need it? If you're not then they probably don't feel you care about them, even if they "know" you do. Chapman helps us identify our and others' love languages so we can better tune in to others' emotional needs.


The 5 Love Languages

Visit author Gary Chapman's site and learn your love language.

  1. Acts of Service
  2. Gifts
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Quality Time
  5. Words of Affirmation

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For Women Only / For Men Only

Some Things You'll Learn in These Books

  1. Men would rather feel unloved than inadequate and disrespected.
  2. Even if the woman personally made enough income to support the family's lifestyle, it would make no difference to the mental burden he feels to provide for his family.
  3. Men are visual: Even happily married men struggle with being pulled toward live and recollected images of other women.
  4. Women often can't "compartmentalize" and just decide not to think about something that is bothering them.
  5. Women have an underlying insecurity about whether their man really loves them.

Other Editions of "For Women Only" and "For Men Only"

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His Needs, Her Needs

"His Needs, Her Needs" - a summary review

His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage

After years of seeing his and his counseling peers' clients' marriages fall apart despite marriage counseling Willard Harley began realizing that men and women need ten basic needs met in order to feel they have a fulfilling marriage, and which five of those ten men and women each find important are usually the exact opposite. Without this knowledge it would be easy to assume the your partner has the same needs as you and thus neglect to fulfill the spouse's needs.

Through real life stories and examples, Harley details the top five needs each of men and women and how to meet them, thus eliminating the problems that tend to lead to extramarital affairs.. He also includes help for couples going through or recovering from an affair and worksheets Harley uses in his practice including his Emotional Needs Questionnaire.

Through his understanding of His Needs and Her Needs Harley now helps most of his clients' troubled marriages repair and flourish.


Some of What You'll Cover

  1. He needs her to be his playmate (recreational companionship).
  2. He needs a good-looking wife (an attractive spouse), but not necessarily in the way you may think.
  3. She needs enough money to live comfortably (financial support), but how much is that?
  4. She needs affection, and that's different that sexual advances.

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Personality Plus

"Personality Plus" - a summary review

by Florence Littauer


You can't be a good spouse (or friends, mother, boss, or coworker, for that matter) without first understanding your mate's personality--and your own. Is she always so pushy? Will anything motivate him? Why is she so forgetful? Why does he always act like that? Littauer uses an ancient personality profile system, which I find very true to life, to explain why people naturally want to act the way they do. She explains the positive and negative points of each personality style and suggests ways to communicate in a way that gets you both what you want. Includes a fun personality profile test for you and all your friends. (The book also has a chapter dedicated to Christians--helpful to Christians, easily skip-able for nonChristians.)


The Personality Types

  1. Powerful Choleric - the driven, get-things-done, my-way-is-the-right-way guy (maybe he's not really mean, he just doesn't realize his to-the-point way of speaking can be abrasive...)
  2. Popular Sanguine - the outgoing, life-of-the-party guy (maybe she's not purposely ditching engagements, she's just forgetful...)
  3. Peaceful Phlegmatic - the avoid-confrontation, every-likes-him guy (maybe he's not as lazy as you think he is, he just has different priorities...)
  4. Perfect Melancholy - the analytical, creative, nothing-is-good-enough-for-me guy (maybe she's not meaning to criticize, she just wants things to be as good as they can be...)

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Love and Respect

"Love & Respect" - a summary review

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs
Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

In this Christian book by Emerson Eggerichs, based on Ephesians 5:33, extensive biblical and psychological research, and his experiences is his ministry counseling, Eggerichs explains how the power of unconditional respect for the husband (where respect is used as a verb rather than an emotion) and unconditional love for the wife (where love is used as a verb rather than an emotion) is the primary key to a fulfilling marriage. In other words, when a man feels respected then he feels loved and when a woman feels loved then she feels respected.

Through giving the husband or wife the respect or love they need, as commanded in Ephesians 5:33, couples can enjoy the marriage God intended for them.

This book is full of life principles that, even though rooted in Christian teachings, hold true for all couples. Perhaps Christians will benefit most from Love and Respect, but other couples of faith will also appreciate Eggerichs' teachings and improve their marriage by following its guidance.

A valuable marriage book for all people of faith and a must-read for Christians.


Some of What You'll Learn

  1. The Crazy Cycle - Without love, she reacts without respect, and without respect, he reacts without love.
  2. The Energizing Cycle - his love motivates her respect and her respect motivates his love (it may seem obvious, but then why isn't it practiced?)
  3. Misunderstandings in communication and not giving the benefit of the doubt fuel The Crazy Cycle

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Additional Resources

I came across these and other great relationship books through my training with Team, a leadership service provider for the LIFE company. Visit the LIFE website for a list of additional relationship resources.

YOUR Favorite Marriage and Relationship Books - What are some of YOUR favorite relationship books? Add your favorite here and then vote!

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

In her most provocative book yet, Dr. Laura urgently reminds women that to take proper care of their husbands is to ensure themselves the happiness and satisfaction they yearn for in marriage. Women want to be in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Yet disrespect for men and disregard for the value, feelings, and needs of husbands has fast become the standard for male-female relations in America. Those two attitudes clash in unfortunate ways to create struggle and strife in what could be a beautiful relationship. Countless women call Dr. Laura, unhappy in their marriages and seemingly at a loss to understand the incredible power they have over their men to create the kind of home life they yearn for. Now, in The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, Dr. Laura shows you—with real-life examples and real-life solutions—how to wield that power to attain all the sexual pleasure, intimacy, love, joy, and peace you want in your life. Dr. Laura's simple principles have changed the lives of millions. Now they can change yours.


YOUR TURN! What Do You Think of These Books?

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    • viscri8 profile image


      6 years ago

      Blessed ! -- an important topic well researched. Thank you for sharing resource on how to save a marriage or how to make relationships work. I wish good luck to everyone willing to try make things better.


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